It’s not a recent thing, you know. Video games that arrive at your living room via SPACE have been a thing since 1981 when Intellivision’s PlayCable launched, a rentable cartridge that allowed users to download a game onto Mattel’s Intellivison console via a coaxial cable. A cable! Remember those?
I remember when all this was cables.
The PlayCable cartridge only had enough memory to handle one game at a time (a bit like the first generation iPhone tee-hee etc.) and, within two years most of the games being released for the system were much too large to fit, advances in technology making the pioneering system redundant.
Nevertheless, in that quiet, largely unsuccessful innovation the PlayCable plugged into a vision of the future, one that almost every major console maker has advanced in its own way over the years.
One that you and I arrived at recently.
There was the Sega Channel, a subscription service for Sega’s 16-bit MegaDrive console which, for $15 a month allowed players to download some of the major releases for the system, as well as a clutch of download exclusives.
Not to be outdone by its rival, Nintendo launched the Satellaview a year later in 1995, a hefty piece of plastic that connected to the underside of the Super Nintendo and allowed owners to download games, music, and news via satellite.
Three special Zelda games were exclusively released via the Satellaview, as well as a text adventure pseduo-sequel to the Japanese RPG classic Chrono Trigger. You want one now, right?
By the time Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was ready for launch in 2004, the ubiquity of broadband connections in the developed world and the system’s hard-drive attachment resulted in Xbox Live Arcade, the first example an on-board downloadable game service shipped with a console.
Perhaps for the first time, titles like Geometry Wars, Shadow Complex and Braid demonstrated that downloadable games needn’t be throwaway, but could in fact offer some of the most interesting experiences in the medium.
From there, download games exploded, with Sony’s PlayStation Network, Nokia’s N-Gage, Nintendo’s WiiWare and Virtual Console services, Steam, Apple and, of course, browser-based games providing their own visions for a downloadable game future.
Which brings us to Hookshot Inc.
Sorry about all that stuff about the 1980s and coaxial cables and Chrono Trigger text adventures. I’m not too good at introductions.
My name is Simon Parkin and I write about video games. Three of my closest friends who also write about video games – Christian Donlan, Will Porter and Keith Stuart – and I first started discussing the idea of a new website that covered this blossoming area of the industry about a year ago.
Hookshot Inc. is the fruit of our deliberations, a website to cover, celebrate and critique the finest in downloadable games.
Of course, if the tech prophets are to be believed, that will be ALL of the video games soon enough, our Gamestops and Electronic Boutiques traded-in by consumers for the convenience of games piped direct to the living room or pocket.
So our remit is a little tighter: we focus on those downloadable titles that cost less than $15.
That means we write about iPhone games like Angry Birds, Xbox Live Arcade games like Fez, Nintendo 3DS games like Mighty Switch Force!, Steam games like Space Chem and Facebook games like Triple Town. All of which are awesome and yet, only some of which you will have heard of.
That’s why we are here.
Snack-sized downloadable gaming is the new frontier in video games, and it’s wild and uncharted.
HookShot Inc. exists to help us all navigate this brave new world, while pointing out the games that we believe have the legs for history.
Or, at very least, the legs for your bus ride to work on a Monday morning.
If you are a developer with a game to tell the world about, by all means let us know and we can maybe help you do that. The only rules are that it must be downloadable and offer the full game experience for less than $15.
And if you are a reader? Well, dear reader, take our collective hand. We promise that this journey is going to be worthwhile.